25 March 2014: Open Day showcases the Yale-NUS experience

Written by James Edwin Benkowski | Image provided by Yale-NUS Admissions & Financial Aid

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Open Day 2014 at the National University of Singapore (NUS), held on 15 March, was an opportunity for prospective university students to learn about the academic, extracurricular, and residential opportunities awaiting them on the NUS campus.

For Yale-NUS College, this was a chance to introduce thousands of student visitors to Yale-NUS’ unique liberal arts curriculum and undergraduate opportunities, and its thriving student life.

Through a wide variety of activities, informative sessions, and performances, the College did just that by reaching out to more than 2,500 prospective students, distributing more than 4,000 informational brochures, and welcoming more than 600 visitors to the temporary campus at Residential College 4. More than 80 Yale-NUS students, staff, and faculty pitched in for the event.

“Open Day was a beautiful example of what makes the Yale-NUS community special,” freshman John Reid (Class of 2017) said. “I found it most rewarding to see people’s ‘Aha!’ moments — the point at which they began to overcome their skepticism and get excited about this place. From monthly Birthday Bashes, to Rousseau or research jobs, every person’s ‘Aha!’ moment was different.

At the information sessions attended by a packed audience of soon-to-be undergraduates and their parents, current Yale-NUS students shared their experiences in and out of the classroom while the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Kristin Greene, explained what made an application strong. Prospective students also had the opportunity to meet professors from the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities divisions.

One of the most popular sessions was a panel discussion by public and private sector leaders on the value of a liberal arts education in shaping students’ future personal and professional lives. ‘The Value of a Liberal Arts and Science Education’ featured insights from leaders such as Charles Ormiston, Founding Partner of Bain and Company in Singapore; Aliza Knox, Managing Director of Twitter; Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; and Durreen Shahnaz, Founder and Chairwoman of IIX and Shujoing. Each panelist emphasised how the liberal arts endowed students with the mental agility to handle ambiguity, a key ability in the modern workplace, as well as how their own liberal arts education prepared them to handle the world’s evolutions through the ability to think, communicate, and problem-solve.

Charles Ormiston lauded the long-term value of a liberal arts education which “allows you to handle the big problems, and not just the little ones… the degree has value [after] five, ten years out of school. You are preparing for every job you will ever do, rather than just the first one”.

Dean Mahbubani summarized his own viewpoint at the end of the panel: “If students only study something specific [as undergraduates], either the world will change or the students will change, and then they will be doing something completely different than what they studied.”

He added, “[Failure to] open your mind to the possibilities of the world is a tremendous disadvantage when you are competing with people more open minded, who are challenging everything and engaging the changing world.”

Throughout the day, people were attracted to the ‘Why I Love Yale-NUS’ Wall – a larger-than-life standalone board with various quotes and well-wishes from the Yale-NUS community. From personal shout-outs to praise for professors, the Wall embodied the Yale-NUS spirit. Some of the heartfelt statements include “Having a 2nd Home!” and “This is a place where if you leave your clothes in the washer for too long, someone will put them in the dryer (rather than throwing them on the floor) and will get the dryer running by putting in a dollar”.